Here is the thing, sometimes saving the $50/75 on the towing fee will cost you hundreds of dollars in additional car repairs. I always recommend that you be sure to have roadside assistance. Roadside assistance can get you out of a lot of tricky situations. Did you know that if you get stuck in the snow roadside assistance will come and lift you out of it?
I’m outlining ten situations below when getting your car towed in important to avoid further damage. This is not a complete list. Use your best judgement. If your car feels like it’s doing something that might cause further damage then have it towed.
1. Your battery light is on. If your battery light is on your car is warning you about the charging system. You have a high likelihood of the car cutting off while you are driving. Have the car towed to avoid this.
2. Check Engine light is flashing. The check engine light flashes when the car has a severe misfire. If you continue to drive the car this can not only lead to major engine problems but also damage your catalytic converter; a very expensive repair.
3. Check engine light comes on and car starts shaking. This can also be the cause of a misfire issue causing the same problems as on 2.
4. Your car’s temperature gauge shows that it is overheating. If car is overheating you need to shut it off as soon as possible. Continuing driving the car may cause damage to your head gasket, engine cylinders or even your catalytic converter. While most overheating repairs if done right away are small, continuing to drive your car can cause thousands of dollars in damage.
5. Significant loss of fluid. For example, if you came outside in the morning and saw a large puddle of oil or coolant. A loss of coolant may cause your car to overheat, low oil may damage your engine. A brake fluid leak may cause you to lose control of your car if you are unable to stop the car.
6. Car cuts off while you were driving. If you can get your started again it still might stall out. This can make you a safety hazard on the road.
7. Brake pedal feels low. A low brake pedal generally means you have a brake fluid leak. A brake fluid leak can lead to catastrophic brake failure. The braking system is a sealed hydraulic system. A fluid leak will cause there to be no pressure and the brakes no operate. (This will be discussed further in another blog post.)
8. Burning or fuel smell inside the car. Fuel may be leaking and your car would be a driving fire waiting to happen. Fuel leaks are no joke. Don’t drive your car. Have it towed to a reliable shop.
9. Smoke coming from the hood of your car. This may happen because your car is overheating or you have oil leaking on to the exhaust. Although the oil leak may not cause immediate damage, a coolant leak will.
10. It’s hard to turn or steer your car. Driving your car with a power steering problem will cause further damage to your steering system. The most common damage is to the power steering pump as low fluid will damage it very quickly. This also is a safety problem as hard steering may make it difficult to avoid an accident.
I know towing feels like a hassle, but honestly the kind of damage you can do to your car just makes it worth the extra trouble. When in doubt, call your mechanic and explain the problem you are having. Your mechanic would be happy to advise you on whether towing is necessary.